Arusha, November 14, 2003 (FH) – The defence counsel for Major Aloys Ntabakuze, the former commander of Kanombe Para-military battalion based in Kigali, on Thursday claimed before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), that he was not implicated in massacres in Kigali as had alleged the prosecution, but had saved people. Witness “WB”, the 26th prosecution witness, claimed on Wednesday that Ntabakuze had authorized refugees to be accommodated at IMSEA (The African-Mauritius Institute for Statistics and Applied Economics of Kigali) on April 14, 1994.

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The next day, soldiers accompanied by Interahamwe militia, attacked the school, sorted out all refugees identified as Tutsis on their identity cards and killed them. “There could have been massacres at IAMSEA, but the implication of my client is another thing altogether and we categorically refute it”, argued André Tremblay, Ntabakuze's co-counsel. In support of his claims, Tremblay said that the American historian and human rights activist, Alison Des Forges, had cleared Ntabakuze of anyinvolvement in the massacres at the institute. Referering to Des Forges's book entitled, “Leave none to tell the story” which served as a base for her expert's report, Tremblay pointed out that “Des Forges rather talks of a Major who saved lives at IAMSEA”. “I have never seen that book. I am talking about something that I witnessed”, retorted WB. The defence continued to argue that on April 7, 1994, soldiers from the Para-military battalion were busy trying to stop the advance of the rebeltroops towards Kigali airport, which was close to Kanombe military camp, home to the Para-commandos. At the beginning of the day, the chamber turned down a motion by the defence which sought to challenge the fact that the witness had identified the accused from photographs. The presiding judge ruled that “If the witness could identify the accused in the courtroom, the issue of using photos did not arise”. Ntabakuze is jointly charged with the former director of cabinet in the ministry of defence Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, the former head of military operations of the army, General Gratien Kabiligi, and the former army commander of Gisenyi region, Lieutenant Colonel Anatole Nsengiyumva. All four have pleaded not guilty to charges of, among others, Genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The trial is being conducted in Trial Chamber One of the ICTR composed of Judge Erik Møse from Norway (presiding), Serguei Aleckseievich Egorov from Russia, and Jai Ram Reddy of Fiji. The chamber will not sit on Friday as has been the usual practice, but will resume next Monday in order to give the prosecution time to prepare the next witness. KN/GA/CE/FH (ML'1114e)